Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots. Luke 23:34
I have been told the church was mostly silent on that day. Evidence of my ongoing struggle with homosexuality was presented, a vote was taken and I was declared unfit to be a member and removed for the destruction of my soul. I was not there that night, but instead was angry and alone in the darkening end of a long and frightening day, as they proclaimed me unworthy of them. Oh . . . my soul. And all that is within me.
Since that fateful vote, I have not seen the faces or heard the voices of those present. No simple note, no gentle whisper of hope or reminder that a prayer has gone forth on my behalf. No follow-up. No Christmas card. No condolences on the burning of my home. Nothing. Separated with only a shred of hope for reconciliation somewhere in eternity.
And yet my soul remains secure. It was not destroyed, but was instead strengthened by the knowing that there is One, who was there that night, who is always with me, and who always will be. Who truly knows my soul.
I have re-invented the scene in my mind’s eye. Presumed which scriptures were cited. What examples of my betrayal of all-things-Christian given. I know the pain of my grown children was displayed to support the need for the harshest penalty possible for my sexual sin. And, like a late-night bogeyman emerging from behind a closet door with sword drawn, eyes glaring and lips pursed, they produced a greater fear than that inside me, a sharper pain than my own self-induced chaos: judgment. Shame. Rejection. Aloneness. Unworthiness.
And then, well, life pretty much returned to normal for all of us, each seeking God and each falling short, sometimes knowing what we were doing, but often not. And, as God does, He looked beyond their rejection and my self-revulsion and on to redemption and restoration, accepting my repentance.
I thought of them then as the bullies of the pulpit, bearing down on a witless victim already buried beneath the debris of his bad decisions. “Here . . . we’ll make this one for you. You’re outa’ here.”
I know now that many times we are unable to separate strugglers from embracers; those who fight and fall under the relentless pull of a never-wanted homosexual attraction, from those who wrap themselves in it in a shrill proclamation and flaunt it in the face of believers, bating a response they can declare as mean-spirited, damaging and destructive babble from an ill-informed hateful bigot. They build a bogeyman and feign fear so the cries can drown out the truth and stifle the motivation of compassion.
It is a useful myth for pro-gay advocates and, in its relentless repetition, it divides the Christian community and reduces us to lessening relevance. Some react with greater fervor, unleashing anger. Others wilt and move toward affirmation, all too willing to set aside the Word of God for peace. And some just no longer care. They go numb, surrender and adopt a code of silence.
How dare we?
Have we forgotten that behind the face of the loud and lost lies a heart that God longs for regardless of whether it longs for Him? Is our only choice to thicken the walls and batten down the hatches? Can we only put on the full armor of God to assume the attack mode? Are we to cover our eyes with hands which should be reaching?
The pro-gay agenda is making ground with the weapon of two simple words: hateful bigot.
“You don’t want me to be happy? You hateful bigot.”
“You don’t think I should marry my same-sex partner? You hateful bigot.”
“You believe in a God that thinks I sin just by being who He made me to be? You hateful bigot.”
“You say you love me and then quote your scriptures that condemn me? You hateful bigot.”
“You want me to be like you? You hateful bigot.”
“You drive me to suicide with your judgment and ignorance and bullying and your chains and you make me feel so unloved and rejected and put down . . . and, on top of that, you deny my civil rights and don’t want me to be proud of who I am . . . and you think you’re just better than me? You hateful bigot.”
Repeated over and over and over, the myth becomes, to some, a twisted reality. And while we will always have hate and we may always have bigots, they are remarkably few among bewildered believers.
And yet, we know that homosexuality is a sin and is destructive, as all sins are. Sins are indeed “evil” and can pollute the soul of the man to the point he becomes almost inseparable from the sin, clinging to it, justifying the clinging by claiming an identity. Outside the prying power of love, there seems no way to see inside that heart.
“An evil man is rebellious to the core. He does not fear God, for he is too proud to recognize and give up his sin. The words he speaks are sinful and deceitful; he does not care about doing what is wise and right. He plans ways to sin while he lies in bed; he is committed to a sinful lifestyle; he does not reject what is evil.” (Psalm 36:1-4).
Christians who are brave enough to love will find themselves surrounded by men and women who struggle with unwanted same-sex attraction and only want help in the rescue. Their lives hang in the balance and they are the softer targets of the hateful-bigot propaganda machine because they are like prizes waiting to be claimed. If pro-gay advocates can convince the silent struggler that you — the bewildered believer — are anxious to pounce on their revelation with the full wrath of religious fervor, marching to the beat of the resounding gong and the clanging cymbal, the pro-gay advocates can claim another casualty and you will lose another chance to help heal a soul.
We can’t afford this. We have no excuses. Even if your upbringing tells you that somehow the homosexual struggler is a lesser human being, a poster-child for “the least of these,” then you have a greater responsibility than ever, according to Christ. And, in risking a moment to move into his or her life, you may discover that that shipwrecked soul is destined by God to sail and do great things. He is every bit as valuable to His creator as you ever were or will be.
We have no excuse for hatefulness. It comes back to haunt us and diminish the impact we can have in the lives of those for whom hope lies just beneath a clouded surface. We have the truth and if we wield it skillfully, we can tear away the lies without destroying the person who has fallen for them.
What is the easiest way to kill a myth? Live the truth.
“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” — Matthew 22:36-40
That’s the truth. We may not be able to change everyone, but we are not given the choice on whether we will love them. And if we love them, we may well change them, or, at the very least, present a better picture of a God who loves them . . . still.
Don’t feed the myth.
(If you would like to know more about how to encourage people who struggle with sexual brokenness, please buy a copy of my book, Surviving Sexual Brokenness: What Grace Can Do from Amazon.com or other sources.)